This is my spin on a traditional educational game listed on many places on the Internet. I use it for rhythm, but the principal can be used for anything. My version is a little different. It’s for two players only (teacher vs. student). The kids love beating me, and they have yet to point out that they always win. It takes a bit of prep work to create the game in the first place, but absolutely no setup during or right before each lesson.
What You Need:
Popsicle or craft sticks with rhythms (or whatever you’re drilling) written on one end
You can buy different colors or sizes to make different levels of rhythms.
All the rhythms are two measures long. I have mixed time signatures.
A few sticks with “Zap It!” written on one end
(Optional) A few sticks with “Instrument” written on one end, plus a selection of percussion instruments
An opaque container to hold your sticks
How to Play:
The student draws a stick. She identifies the time signature and then counts and claps that rhythm. If she gets it right, she keeps the stick.
In reality, I have the kids do it again until they get it right, so they always keep the stick.
As teacher, I draw a stick. I identify the time signature and then count and clap the rhythm. If I get it right, I keep the stick. If the student catches me getting it wrong, the student gets a chance to do it right. If the student gets it right, she can keep the stick instead of me.
I do this strategically, not only to make sure they are paying attention during my turn, but also to ensure they always win the game.
Alternate turns until someone draws a Zap It! stick. At that point, everyone counts their sticks. Whoever has the most sticks is the winner.
If someone draws an Instrument stick, they draw another stick to get a rhythm and can choose a percussion instrument to use instead of clapping. They keep both sticks at the end of the turn.
My daughter was given Takenoko for Christmas and she loves it. It’s a fun game about a panda eating bamboo and a gardener growing it. I quickly co-opted it into the studio, and we have played it every day this week. To make it possible to use in a lesson, I have simplified/changed the rules considerably, but it is a fun game either way. My rules will likely not make sense unless you are looking at the game and have played it the normal way, but I’m preserving them here anyway. I have no relationship with the company that makes Takenoko. We’re just a family who enjoyed using it.
For most of my students, I used treble clef notes, bass clef notes, and intervals.
For some of my students, I used key signatures by name, key signatures by staff, and intervals.
Naturally, you can use whatever your student needs to review.
Find the pond tile. Place it out in the center of your space with the panda figure and the gardener figure on it.
Make a stack of the hexagonal tiles to draw from.
Lay out your three sets of flashcards and assign a color to each (pink, green, or yellow).
Separate the stacks of goal cards by color. The student will need the purple panda set. The teacher needs the red gardener set. Using the blue tile set is optional.
Each player should start with three cards from their respective deck. If you are using the blue tile set, one of the three should be a blue card.
How to Play:
The student goes first.
A typical turn has three components:
Draw a hexagonal tile and play it. It should immediately grow a piece of bamboo that matches it’s color.
Draw a flashcard from the pile that matches the color of the tile and answer it.
Move the panda (or the gardener, if it’s the teacher’s turn) in a straight line in any direction. When the panda lands on a tile, she eats one piece of bamboo from that tile. When the gardener lands on a tile, he makes bamboo grow by one piece, not only on the tile he’s on, but also on all adjacent tiles of the same color.
Once the panda has collected the right bamboo pieces to complete the goal on one of her three cards, she can show that card and gain the points from it. Same deal if the gardener completes any of the bamboo groves on his card.
If a card is played and points are earned, that player can draw another goal card to replace it, so that three goals are always possible.
Play until you run out of time, and then count up the points to see who won.
A Few Notes:
The panda cards are easier to complete than the gardener cards, which is why I am always the gardener and the student is always the gardener.
If students catch me answering wrongly on a flashcard, they get a free panda move wherever they want to go.
In this version, we ignore all the little symbols on the tiles. No need to worry about irrigation, fertilizer, no-panda-zones, or any of that. It’s a fun game with it, but it would take the whole lesson time to explain it all. As it is, it’s a little heavier on explanation than I generally like. But it was a big hit, and several of my students really needed the review to be in a fun format, so it was worth it.
There is nothing better than using the same materials you already created for a new purpose. My Thanksgiving turkey from Pluck the Turkey (Note Review) is a multi-purpose turkey for drilling other things as well.
What You Need:
A turkey body, plus a lot of feathers
I cut mine out of scrapbooking paper so they were already in cute patterns with no extra effort on my part.
If you want to be able to reuse it for multiple purposes, laminate everything. Otherwise, don’t bother.
Tape or sticky tack
Write on the back of the feathers what you want to drill, such as:
Phrase 1, Phrase 2, Phrase 3, OR
Review Song, Recital Song, Sightreading, OR
Rhythms to clap back OR
write absolutely nothing and just draw a card from a stack of flashcards when necessary.
Hide the feathers around the room or don’t bother and just put them in a heap next to your turkey body.
How to Play:
The student finds a feather if they are hidden or just choose one if they’re not.
Do whatever is on the flashcard.
Tape or sticky tack the feather on the turkey body to make your turkey resplendent.
These could be official flashcards with notes on the staff on them, or they could be scraps of paper that say phrase 1, phrase 2, phrase 3, etc., or practically anything else.
Something to use as bowling pins
I don’t have actual bowling pins, but I have used stacks of plastic bowls, larger pumpkins, paper towel rolls, anything you have several of and will not break.
Place a flashcard under each of your makeshift bowling pins.
How to Play:
The student rolls (not throws), the mini pumpkin toward the bowling pins. Whichever one they hit, do the flashcard under it. (If it’s something heavy like a large pumpkin, it won’t actually fall over, but it’s okay just to bump it.)